It will be the United States Air Forces Academy versus either Rice or Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The Conference USA post-season scenario was announced Monday with Tulsa holding the key to the Falcons’ December 29 bowl opponent at the Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
The 10th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will be aired nationally by ESPN and ESPN Radio with a 10:45 a.m. (CST) kickoff as the post-season game returns to the newly-renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium after being staged the past two seasons in Dallas at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of SMU.
Rice will be the Air Force opponent in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl if Tulsa defeats UCF at home Saturday in the Conference USA title game. If UCF defeat the Golden Hurricane, Tulsa will play the Falcons in Fort Worth at the end of December. Earlier this month, Tulsa defeated UCF 23-21 at home.
Tulsa, who has competed in two Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls in 2006 and 2011, is currently 9-3 this season and finished 7-1 to win the CUSA West Division title. Rice is 6-6 this season and split its eight CUSA games. The Golden Hurricane defeated Rice 28-24 in Tulsa October 20.
Air Force, which finished the season with a 6-6 record to earn its sixth-straight bowl berth under the leadership of Troy Calhoun, has played both Rice and Tulsa six times with the last meetings with both schools being in 1998 when all three institutions were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
The Falcons are 5-1 against Rice with the last game featuring linebacker Mike Tyler's 26-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to lift Air Force to a 22-16 victory over Owls. The win also earned Air Force a spot in the 1998 Western Athletic Conference title game as Mountain Division champions.
Current Air Force offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Blane Morgan led the Falcons to a 42-21 win over Tulsa in the last meeting between the two schools to even the series between the two former WAC rivals at 3-3. The late October game in 1998 saw Morgan rush for 56 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 190 yards and another score.